Thursday, 13 October 2011

How to make a footballer cake

Sometimes I feel like I'm breaking the magician's code when I show how I make my cakes but so many people have said they love seeing it come together that I can't help sharing it on the blog.
Today here's how I made a footballer cake for my friend David's partner Denis:

You will need:
Round cake (madeira cake works the best)
Rice Krispie Treats (recipe below)
Sugarpaste (fondant) in white, green, peach, black, red and blue
Gum tragacanth to turn sugarpaste into modelling paste
Edible glue
Cocktail sticks
Dry spaghetti
Tools - large & small rolling pins, serrated knife, sharp knife, cone tool to make holes (or you could use a cocktail stick), small brush for applying edible glue, pastry brush for applying glitter

I started off with an 8" round lemon madeira cake, which I left wrapped in the fridge overnight to settle.  This make it easier to cut into layers and less likely to crumble.  The next morning I cut into layers and filled each layer with lemon curd buttercream and fresh raspberries.  I finished it off by covering the top and sides with a thin layer of buttercream, making sure it was as smooth as possible to give an even surface for the sugarpaste.  Then I placed the iced cake in the fridge to firm up the buttercream.

While the cake was in the fridge, I got straight onto making the 3D numbers.  So they aren't too heavy to stand up on the cake, they are made from Rice Krispie treats which need time to set before you carve them.  They are easy peasy to make:
1. Gently melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan.
2. Add a 225g bag of marshmallows and stir until melted.
3. Quickly stir in 2 cups of Rice Krispies.
4.  Press well into a tin pre-lined with silicone paper.  I find using another layer of greaseproof on top then pressing down with another tin gives the best result.  Once cool, refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Once the Rice Krispie treats were set, I cut out the numbers with a sharp knife using paper templates as a guide:

To give a smooth surface I applied a thin layer of buttercream, then covered in red sugarpaste.  I added some edible glitter with a brush to make the numbers sparkle:

I had the option of just laying the numbers flat on the cake, but I thought I'd be brave and try and make them stand up vertically.  I pushed cocktail sticks into the base of the numbers and left aside to add to the cake once the cake was decorated and the footballer was in place.

I had planned to cover the whole cake in green sugarpaste to make it look like a football pitch, but when I read the back of the pack of green sugarpaste it said "although not harmful, due to the high levels of colour concentration this is not suitable for covering whole cakes and should be used sparingly."  Oh dear.  So I had a quick rethink and instead I decided to cover the cake in white and use just a thin circle of green to cover the top.  I even mixed in about 1/3 white sugarpaste into the green so it was less strong but still had a good colour.

I used the bottom of a 7" cake tin to mark out the circle of green and rounded off the edges before adding to the top of the cake.  Using the offcuts, I rolled out a long strip of green and cut in a random jagged edge to look like grass. 

I added this in small strips about 4" long to make it easier to apply to the cake, teasing a few of the ends over to make it look a little more realistic:

I kept the offcuts and squished them together to form clumps of grass, which I left to dry out before adding to the cake later:

Note to self:  next time leave them to dry on a bit of silicone paper so that you can move them without crushing them!

Then came the final and most important part - making the footballer.

David had sent me a picture of Denis in his football kit, and I also found a picture on the Stonewall FC website to work from:

When I'm creating a figure in sugarpaste I like to take the key features of the person rather than try and create a realistic replica.  When he's off the pitch, Denis wears some distinctive glasses so I wanted to add these to the sugarpaste figure as well as matching up his football strip.

I started off by making the body in blue modelling paste.  I always start with this as it's easiest to measure the size of all the other body parts from the torso.  I made a sort of flattened cone shape and used a cone tool to create holes where the arms would go:

I then rolled a long sausage shape and cut to size for the arms.  Starting from the sausage shape, I slightly tapered the bottom, formed a notch to secure to the body, and cut a small 'v' from the middle so that the arms would bend more naturally:

I used a tool to make a hole in the end of each arm for the hand to fit.  I then made the hands from peach coloured modelling paste, starting with a teardrop shape, then flattening slightly and cutting a notch for the thumb:

I made a football from white sugarpaste with small pentagons cut from black sugarpaste added, then put the body together using edible glue.  I added extra details of the sponsorship logos, white stripes and captain armband to bring it to life as a football shirt:

Next I made a pair of shorts from white modelling paste.  I started with a fat sausage shape and cut a 'v' in the middle so that it bent round.  I secured it straight onto the cake with a cocktail stick which would also stick up into the body to secure it:

The legs were made from peach modelling paste, rolled into a tapered sausage, again with a 'v' cut out so that the leg would bend.  I then covered the shins in a thin layer of navy sugarpaste for the socks:

The legs were secured with short lengths of dry spaghetti and edible glue.  I propped them up while I made the shoes out of black sugarpaste and added a small green block underneath to keep everything from falling apart.

I made the head using the instructions on this video (I advise you to turn the sound off though because the music is really annoying!):

In hindsight maybe his eyes should have been just a little bit smaller....

I secured the body onto the shorts then pushed a cocktail stick through the neck ready to attach the head.  Sugarpaste footballer - done!:

The final element was adding the 3D numbers.  This was a bit trickier to make them stay up than I had thought, and I ended up having to push a long stick of dried spaghetti all the way through the 4 into the cake to make it stable!  I finished off the numbers with the grass clumps I made earlier, secured with a little edible glue and the cake was done!

I was really pleased with how it turned out - it's well proportioned and really makes an impact.  If I could make one change, it would be to have the footballer on the side of the cake next to the 3D numbers - it looked great in front of you, when you could see all around it, but in photos the number gets lost behind the figure.  Still, I make cakes for people first and foremost, not for the website, and it makes absolutely no difference to how it tastes!

Hope you enjoyed the post, don't forget to become a follower (near the top on the right hand side of the page) if you'd like to see more of my cake creations :o)

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